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More dollars for food shelves

Published (3/28/2008)
By Patty Ostberg
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The Health Department would have to cut administrative costs by 6 percent, under the House Housing Policy and Finance and Public Health Finance Division’s omnibus bill approved March 25.

Sponsored by Rep. Karen Clark (DFL-Mpls), HF3381 would, in part, cut $2.3million for the current biennium and give additional dollars to food shelf programs and long-term homeless supportive services.

Other provisions include:

• increasing the debt ceiling for the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency from $3 billion to $5 billion;

• reducing the positive abortion alternatives program by $1.9 million;

• increasing money to the Board of Nursing Home Administrators from the special revenue fund;

• changing regulations to public pools;

• abolishing a deputy commissioner and assistant commissioner position in the Health Department; and

• appropriating $619,000 to the food shelf program and $618,000 to long term homelessness supportive services.

Rep. Dan Severson (R-Sauk Rapids) questioned why the bill would cut the department by 2 percent more than the governor’s recommendations.

“It would present even greater challenges to the department,” said Craig Acomb, the department’s chief financial officer.

Clark said the department proposed cuts to programs such as fetal alcohol syndrome, and instead of those she suggested reducing positions and monies to other programs.

Clark successfully added an amendment that would ban bisphenol-a and certain phthalates from being sold by manufacturers as of Jan. 1, 2009. Both products are known to be used in children’s toys or baby bottles.

The committee is faced with issues of people literally in the street who are hungry. “Of course this is unpleasant but this is the reality we’re facing,” said Rep. John Benson (DFL-Minnetonka).

The bill was incorporated March 27 by the House Finance Committee into one supplemental budget bill. A Senate companion, SF3287, sponsored by Sen. Kathy Sheran (DFL-Mankato), awaits action by the Senate Health and Human Services Budget Division.

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